Bettershopper extension for Firefox 2.0

So I finally got tired of waiting for the developer of one of my favorite Firefox extensions to update it to work with Firefox 2. Clearly he has a life or some outside interests (like family or something) that is messing with his release cycle. Though I have tried to be patient, being the CD shopping junkie that I am, life without the comparison shopping abilities of bettershopper has been painful. Lately I have been doing some reading about extension development in Firefox and today, gripped by a random fit of productivity I grabbed the bettershopper extension and modified it myself so it works with Firefox 2.0. If I had known how small the change was, I would have done it sooner. If you want to install it in your browser (and you do), click here.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, Bettershopper adds a table like this to product pages on Amazon showing you where you can get the best price on what you are searching for.

Bettershopper in action!


iPod battery problems

Well as you may have noticed from my previous posts, the battery life on the 5th generation iPod videos is not very good. Although it says 14 hours on the box, I was only able to get 5 and change and less than that if I were doing stuff that required backlight (reading for example). Although it would not suprise me if Rockbox used a little more battery than the Apple firmware, having it cause a drop that dramatic is a little hard to believe. My solution: Return the iPod, get a new one.

It seems that Apple has quietly upgraded the battery in the new generation of iPod videos; aka the iPod video 5.5 generation which is what I picked up today. Unfortunatly, though the refund was no problem, I find my self stymied by a new problem: Rockbox won’t work on the 5.5 gen iPod video.

Apparently Apple made the blocks of data on the hard drive four times larger (2048 byte sectors up from 512) than on the older 5 G, totally confusing the Rockbox installer. The programmers on the rockbox project are working on fixing it, but for now I am scratching my head over what to do with if I can’t play my music on it.


First entry in the “Not news” category…

The Daily Show is as substantive as the “real” news

The Daily Show is much funnier than traditional newscasts, but a new study from Indiana University says it has the same amount of meat on its bones when it comes to coverage of the news. The brand of news coverage Jon Stewart and the rest of The Daily Show’s staff brings to the airwaves is just as substantive as traditional news programs like World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, according to the study conducted by IU assistant professor of telecommunications Julia R. Fox and a couple of graduate students. Read more

iPod fragmentation; a cautionary tale.

On the way out the door from work today, I put in my earphones and fired up my iPod so I could rock out on the train home. To my frustration, the opening riff of my chosen song stopped abruptly and after nearly a full second, picked up where it left off only to be interrupted again every few seconds for the rest of the song. This behaviour itself was not new, it had happened a few times before, and was confined to a few songs and a much lower frequency. The afflicted songs were promptly re-ripped which seemed to solve the problem, but not today. As I skipped to the next song, it too choked and cut out, as did the next one, and the next one….

Exasperated, I stuffed my iPod back in my bag and resolved to resolve this at home. Staring out the train window I had a feeling that it might be worth defragging the poor thing. Over the last two weeks it had become a beast of burden, carrying gigs of digital goodies from my bittorrent download folder at home to my DVD burner at work. Low and behold:

Volume fragmentation
Total fragmentation = 6 %
File fragmentation = 13 %
Free space fragmentation = 0 %

Fragmentation is bad for iPods.

After a long slow defragmentation it now plays without a hiccup. Yay!

But I don’t feel retro…

Lately I have had a hankering to play some of the classic video games I remember from my childhood. I have many fond memories of playing metal gear with Aaron and my Dad, and of working my way through Super Mario 3 and Zelda during cookie fueled sleep overs with my friend John King. Funny how these things stick with you. Well I am happy to report that you too can satisfy the urge to revisit your childhood thanks to the thriving retro gaming community on the web. All you need is an emulator like Nestopia and a few ROMS.

Ninja Gaiden 2

Some of my favorites are Super Mario 2 and 3, Ninja Gaiden 2, Zelda and, strangely, Duck tales. You can find just about anything else you might want on Rom nation.
I am struggling to remember some of my other favorites. There was one with a special tank thing that you had to jump around like a character and a few others that are on the tip of my brain.

As a bonus you can also get the original controllers tricked out with USB connectors for the hardcore among you.

Legend of Zelda

Rockbox and Battery bench.

As cool as it is that I can get my iPod to play Doom and stuff, all that comes with a price; battery life. Noticing that it seems to go through batteries pretty quickly I thought I would take a look at the battery usage of my iPod with a cool little utility included with Rockbox called Battery Bench.

What I did was turn off the backlight and set the player to shuffle play a massive playlist until the battery dies. Battery Bench logs the voltage and whatnot into a textfile in the root directory of the iPod so you can figure out what your player is doing. The result? 5 hours 40 minutes and 42 seconds of playback.

Battery bench results

I am not sure how that compares with other iPod video players but it seems kind of short to me. I have seen people posting results of 10+ hours for other players. Even that time is cut pretty dramatically if I start doing a stuff that involves backlight (i.e. Doom or Arknoid). Ultimately the longevity of the battery is not that big a deal for me. If it gets me to work they I am happy but I am hoping that future versions can improve that a bit (or alot). As Rockbox evolves I will run more of these bench tests and post the results.